Chapel: Spirituality has grown along with campus
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Danielle Rinnier shared an interesting observation about Grand Canyon University at the start of her Chapel talk Monday morning. Her perspective is particularly valuable – she graduated from GCU in 2007 and has worked full time at the University for nearly 10 years.
“Obviously, GCU has changed a tremendous amount since I was a student here – bigger buildings, more students, incredible programs,” GCU’s Director of Spiritual Life began, “but my favorite thing that I’ve gotten to watch on campus is to watch God work in the lives of our students.”
It got even more interesting when she expanded on it later in the day.
Sitting in her corner office on the first floor of the Spiritual Life Building, Rinnier observed that as the buildings and the student population and the programs on campus have risen dramatically in recent years, so too has the spirituality she witnesses.
“It’s just interesting because when you think of a typical college student, they’re in a season of life where it’s very focused on them and their future and having fun and enjoying life,” she said. “But so many of our students, because of their relationship with God, are thinking, ‘OK, how can I serve and help people around me?’ when it would be really easy to have a mindset of ‘life is all about me.’”
One place she sees it all the time is the Spiritual Life office.
“Anytime a student wanders in here who’s not a regular, they’re welcoming, want to know their story, want to get them plugged in to healthy community,” she said.
“On campus, people can really feel a difference, and that’s because, from my perspective, I think that God has rewired people’s hearts to really think about the fact that every person they interact with is made in God’s image, every person is valuable, every person is worthy of love.
“So that’s your perspective – whether you’re encountering a friend or a classmate or a stranger, you’re hopefully treating them differently than you might if you didn’t look at life through that lens.”
Rinnier reinforced that perspective in Chapel by sharing two things she tells her young sons, Maddox and Levi, all the time:
- “God is with you all the time.”
- “God loves you no matter what.”
She also quoted from Romans 8:28-39, which reads in part:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose. … Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
“If God was willing to do that when we were His enemy, how much more is He willing to love us in the midst of life’s circumstances?” she said. “You and I can’t undo that kind of love.”
That’s true, she added, even when we sin and then hide from Him in shame. Just as Maddox did recently.
Rinnier told a funny story of how her 4-year-old was sent to the director’s office at his preschool because he’s a bit of a busybody. The director was called away for a couple of minutes, so Maddox did what a lot of 4-year-olds might do in that situation – he helped himself to the candy jar on the desk. One problem: He left the evidence, in the form of candy wrappers and half-eaten chocolate, on the floor, where he was hiding.
When she talked with Maddox about it and told him what his discipline would be, she said two very important things:
“Mommy loves you no matter what.”
“God loves you no matter what.”
Nevertheless, Maddox’s first instinct was to hide – the same thing we do to God when we get caught up in today’s culture. Paul addressed that very idea in his various letters in the Bible.
“In life and in our culture sometimes, it feels like evil is winning. It feels like the bad outweighs the good,” she said. “And Paul is wanting to remind us and those in his day who were facing really difficult circumstances that God’s people will prevail.”
And Rinnier wanted the Chapel audience to have one thought in mind from her message:
“I hope that you leave here today having assurance in the One that Paul talks about, having assurance in God – that what He says, we can trust and count on.”
No matter what.
● For a replay of Chapel, including the music of the Worship team, click here.
● Next Monday’s speaker: Jodi Hickerson, Mission Church, Ventura, Calif.
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].